Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Big Jon Atkinson's House Party

House Party At Big Jon's, a new Delta Groove release by Big Jon Atkinson & Bob Corritore is a rollicking traditional blues recording featuring the 26 year old Atkinson, who plays and sings with an authority of someone much older, and veteran harmonica master Bob Corritore, who was producing classic blues recordings before Atkinson entered this world. The two are supported by a variety of players including guitarist Danny Michel, bassist Troy Sandow, and drummers Malachi Johnson, Brian Fahey, and Marty Dodson. Recorded at Big Jon's home studio with vintage equipment, these originals and choice covers capture the sound of vintage recordings from Chess, Excello and Trumpet. Adding spice are guest appearances by Dave Riley, Willie Buck, Alabama Mike and Tomcat Courtney, providing their well seasoned voices.

Thee are many pleasures to listen to here, from the swamp blues meets Sonny Boy Williamson ambience of Atkinson's opening "Goin' Back To Tennessee," and his own evocation of a classic Jay Miller recording on another original "It Wasn't Easy," followed by a rocking swamp blues penned by Miller, "She's My Crazy Little Baby," that almost sounds like an unissued Lonesome Sundown recording. Corrritore's "Here Comes My Baby," sounds like a Sonny Boy Williamson Chess recording although retro-traditional with Little Walter styled harp. Dave Riley's down-home rendition of Charles Johnson's gospel number "At the Meeting," is followed by a rearrangement of Lightnin' Hopkin's "Mojo Hand" with biting guitar from Atkinson and vocal from Alabama Mike. Tomcat Courtney follows with his own Muddy Waters' styled down-home blues "Mojo in My Bread." 

Atkinson's "Mad About It," is a Muddy Waters styled blues, musically reminiscent of "Tiger in My Tank," with hot slide guitar and some strong Corritore harp while the pair channel the Second Sonny Boy Williamson on "Empty Bedroom." Also nice is a cover of Slim Harpo's "I'm Gonna Miss You Like The Devil," followed by Willie Buck channeling Muddy Waters in his vocal on his "You Want Me To Trust You," and then Dave Riley is more in a Memphis meets Chicago mood on "Mississippi Plow." "El Centro," a harmonica feature set against a Tex-Mex groove, is followed by Willie Buck taking the vocal on a cover of Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee," with the band capturing that Baton Rouge groove. 

The recording closes with Alabama Mike channeling Muddy Waters singing Casey Bill Weldon's "Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door," as Big Jon evokes Muddy's slide style, and Big Jon letting us know "My Feelings Won't Be Hurt," taken a medium tempo and sung and played with the authority characteristic of the entire House Party at Big Jon's. It was indeed quite a party as they evoke the classic blues sounds of the fifties and the sixties with these excellent performances.

I received a review copy from Delta Groove. While written several months ago, this review was just published in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369), although I have made corrections to the version that appeared there.  Here is a video of them in action.

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